tv Life of Francis Scott Key CSPAN July 27, 2014 9:00am-9:39am EDT
>> a lawyer who argued more than 100 cases before the supreme was , francis scott key originally opposed to declaring war against england in 1812. "american history tv," leepson, the author of what so proudly we hailed request: francis scott key, the life." the national archives hosted this event. [ captioning performed by the national captioning institute ] captioning coppery right national cable satellite corp., 2014 ]
>> it's been 75 years since a biography of key has been published. our speaker mark leepson is here to tell us what he's discovered and writing rching his new book about key, what so hailed. we historian john cupla, officer of women" said it tells the multi-facetted story star author of "the spangled banner" with clarity, passion, a and literary performance nailing the high notes of the land of the brave.d the home of the mark leepson is a journalist, historian, and author of eight previous bookses include lafayette, letters of eadership, desperate engagement, the story of onfederate general jubal's early attack on washington. flag, an american biography, the istory of the stars and stripes. and the levy family's epic quest
that ease the house jefferson built. e's a former staff writer for congressional quarterly and a freelance writer since 1986, ritten for many newspapers and magazines and arts editor and olumnist for the newspaper published by the vietnam veterans of america. at fairfax community college in warrenton, virginia. welcome mark leepson.
so was francis scott key's only only uncle. phillip barton key has more nfluence on scott than his father did. they're schooled at home. ohn ross key was served in the continental army in the revolution. loyalist.r became a he joined the british army. he fought in florida, got captured along with everybody else. went -- he'd never been to england. he went to england after the war. he got tired of life in england and came back to the united states. that, loyalists who came back especially from england, especially those who fought against us, they weren't and feathered, but most of them didn't get a good welcome. barton key did.
owner.me a big property he became rich. st. john's ank to college in annapolis. it's still there. offers classical education. we mean greek and latin. e studied greek and latin, he graduated in 1796, he read the his uncle.polis with fellow youngof his lawyers there was a man named tau brook tau nooe, roger nooe who later became chief states. of the united frank went back to frederick where he hung out at shingle and tawney were so close that roger b.tawney married frank's sister. they were friends, colleagues,
for the rest of frank's life. he died in 1843. he graduated from st. john's. he was in when annapolis, he didn't board at the college. uncle, d with his great upton scott where the scott comes from in his name. in a beautiful house. privately owned. he read the law. came back. polyloit.d so the lloyd family was in the upper income brackets. her father, colonel lloyd was a owner in y y plantation. yie. the chesapeake bay bridge towards the maryland-eastern shore. thousands of acres, there's a family, as was ng
the key family. is a big issue in francis scott key's wife. he married polylloyd. they had two children. a young lawyer in frederick and they moved to washington, d.c. 1805. they moved into a house on bridge street which we now know street in georgetown. the house is on the river. it's not there anymore. here's a park called francis scott key park, if you come over the key bridge named after scott key. if you turn park on to m street, it's francis scott key park. there's a bust of him. that's not where the house was, actually. the house was to the left of the key bridge. was torn down se in 1947 to make way for the ntrance ramp on to the
whitehurst freeway. they put the brings and the logs and everything where the park is. disappeared. there.and polly lived they wound up having 11 children. he became a big lawyer in town. practice. thriving he would wind up arguing over the supreme ore court. he comes the u.s. attorney in washington for eight years under jackson. so let's go up to the events 1814.happened in thing that got francis scott key to court that day was the bladensburg, it took place on august 26, 1814. y'all know about that one. now, s when the british -- the war of 1812 going on not
much -- stuff happened. a new war took on spring of n the 814 when the british defeated napoleon and sent over more crack troops. and down made it up the chesapeake bay raiding towns up and down the chesapeake bay. august, they invaded washington, d.c. the army we put up was not good. one of the worst american defeats in american military history. rolled through. they burned washington. they burned the white house, they burned public buildings. francis scott key, by the way, adamantly against america 1812.ng in the war in he saw no purpose in it. we went to war against england.
about the his mind war when they started to do the raiding up and down the chesapeake. things were getting too close for comfort. he joined a militia union in and went out around the chesapeake. he didn't see any action. close. he did show up hat the battle of bladensburg. it's at the eastern entrance of washington, d.c. out to see what he could do to help. he knew the terrain, he lived around here. he knew people. much.dn't help very he was among the americans who of theed anonymously off battlefield and the british burned washington. british did not burn any private buildings in washington, d.c. they said they were burning
avenge on to revenge -- what happened when we burned the city of york, which was toronto, canada. frank and a lot of civilians -- sent poll polly and the kids back up to maryland. it was a trying time. department -- didn't know the britishes weren't going to city.he entire after the battle, a physician, a beans, dr. lliam who s, a prominent surgeon lived in upper marlboro, the and got involved in war. there were straggler officers and took him prisoner. for a couple of days. when the british came and prisoners, they were not happy. beanes and another man prisoner. they left the other men go.
they kept dr. beanes. they put him on ships and the british left and sailed to baltimore. family friend and he was revailed upon to help rearange the release. hat happened is we prevailed upon the british, the officer in charge, to get letters from the british prisoners saying how they were treated, they were treated well. up to baltimore, rode on his horse 35 miles to letters from the the british prisoners saying, these americans are okay, they eat more than bread and water. that's not a direct quote. positive letters. and he was met in baltimore by a man named john skinner. skinner was a lawyer like of actually -- he was sort working for the state department
ut had the rank of colonel in the army. key rode up to baltimore. he met up with skinner. they got on an american ship and began looking for the british fleet. found him. the british welcomed him onboard. all the time. they had dinner, drank wine. and negotiated the release of beanes. we believe it was the letters that did the trick. go.they said, okay, you can but, wait, we're going to bomb baltimore back to the stone age you can't leave until then. beanes, and inner, keep and put them on another british ship as they moved closer to baltimore. back on the american shoot that they sailed oh it to find the british, but under guard. you hear francis scott key the eing held prisoner by british. he wasn't free to go. go.he would be free
british want to bomb baltimore back to the stone age? the war was controversial before and different, not in baltimore. the baltimore people -- they're baltimorons, are they? talk in baltimore later on. i don't want to say that. adamantn baltimore were war hawks from the beginning. they called it a nest of thieves, the british did. needed all the help they could get. people couldn't wait to get after the british. contrary to what hey were going to do in washington which was not burn illages, they wanted to raze the city. they had four bomb ships, bomb ships just ships that threw
bombs.50-pound so they moved closed to ft. mchenry. it sticks out in baltimore harbor. who was in tead charge of defending ft. mchenry. bit.me back up a little as bad as the american army did in bladensburg folding like a did, it was thee opposite in baltimore. they could see the fires of burning from high points in the city. they knew the british mean business. they had a militia of 5,000 county.n ft. mchenry they built defenses, they built fortifications and so they were british. the the british were ready for them. thee were two components to british attack on baltimore. we don't often hear about the land component. started about the same time.
we know about the rockets and the bombs bursting in air. north point e of started just a bit before the bombs bursting in air. were on their theirwards baltimore when commanding colonel shot dead off of his horse. and that took the steam out of the british. nd the americans put up a really good fight. the british got close to the gates of baltimore on the land part. then we had a tremendous storm that happened. storms have a way of influencing ilitary history throughout the world. it had an influence on the battle. the british got stalled. bombardment happened as they said 25 straight hours, 1500 cannons, artillery, rockets. it was maybe unprecedented in warfare at that time. that continuous of bombing. so what armstead did also is he scuttled old ships in
the harbor so the british could not get close enough. consecutive hours of bombing, not one person was killed on land in baltimore. their shook to foundations. people were scared out of their wits. only four soldiers were killed at ft. mchenry. by the way, we were throwing out bomb ourselves. key, skinner, and beanes were behind the lines. has a key cam on-line where you can look at baltimore see whata day live and francis scott key saw -- well, not exactly. he was an amateur poet, francis scott key was. amateur poetry. it was never meant to be seen outside of family and friends. died, somebody published a book. you can read it. if you go on google books, you it.read don't take my word for it. the poetry was bad.
but something -- so he was write a poem that night by what he saw and into the morning. an rote on the back -- not envelope, a letter that he had in his pocket or he started it a letter.k of what did he see? bombs, the 500 tremendous thunderstorm, it all ended at 3:00 in the morning. rainy, was dark, it was they couldn't see. they didn't know who won. they t me if i'm wrong, didn't have twitter back then. no one tweeted out, british away. they couldn't see. so they waited until the dawn's early light. oh, that's a good phrase. when -- but, when dawn happened, it was still -- the storm hasn't gone away. they still couldn't see. they had their looking glasses. dawn rises enough, they can see a flag, but they can't see what it is. it's hanging limp.
then a breeze comes and our flag was still there. moved to write this poem. the british let them go. once he saw the flag, of course, that we had prevailed. now, the other thing that people on't remember about the battle -- this is a turning point of the war of 1812. british slump off in slunk a word? it is now, thank you. british left in defeat with their tail between their they start a talk. peace talks are going on before that. they intensified. had e end of the year, we the treaty of gent signed. more battle of 1812 which happened after the signing of the battle of gent -- battle of new orleans which andrew jackson made his name. the treaty had not been ratified. the war wasn't quite over yet.
battle ofer this, the baltimore is the turning point of the war of 1812. we could have been speaking with british accents today if the british had prevailed. key goes back to the hotel in baltimore. he finishes, you know, there four verses to this poem or song and talk about whether it littleoem or a song in a bit. nd then what happens next is not clear. francis scott key never wrote what happened that night or spoke about it in public. he spoke about it in public once years later, he talked in generalities at a political deflected what happened to him and talked about the defenders of baltimore. letter on october 4 in which he talked about never mentioned writing a song or a poem. he talked about dr. beanes and talked about the british officers whom he did not like. account that we have about what happened that night.
the one you've all read, the one read, comes from something ritten by frank's brother-in-law. it was published in 1853, 40 later. frank said people told him this after the battle. people wanted to know, he wrote it down for prosperity long with an article that john stewart skinner wrote after tawney's book came out that sort of made skinner the hero of the thing. so this is what we think piecing together -- evidence that we have maybe ex-brother-in-law judge nickelson, joseph hopper at the n who fought battle of baltimore took this in baltimore.ter
sidesthin two days, broad with this poem, had appeared all over the city. including distributed all over the city. key's name was not on it. ft.title was the defense of mchenry. then we don't know why, but a appeared on r, it sheet music from car's music store. the name was changed to "the banner" and it said to be sung to the tune of annochrion in heaven. it was a well-known song in the early republic. not uncommon in those days, it was common for people's words of ongs to be put on well-known melodie melodies. popular, there were that people ngs knew.
on id not have frank's name it. it appeared in newspapers around the country. name came on it. it became a popular patriotic air. popular.most it was one of the patriotic airs patriotic ayed at location, fourth of julies, gatherings.her late 1800s til the that it became a de facto national anthem. signed t until 1951 he the bill. 1931.tional anthem in was he writing a song or poem night. up until relatively recently,
most historians believe he was poem.ng a he was an amateur poet. he had not written one song in his life. e did write two religious hymns. he was a religious man. he almost went to thee piz co-pal priesthood. he thought he couldn't do it because he had so many children and he had to make a living. he was very pie yous, very patriotic. patriotic. pious. ut he was one of the founders of the theological seminary here and at ndria, virginia the new orleans theological well.ry as we wrote two religious hymns but he wasn't a song writer. family hadily -- the unmusical n of being
hich i translate to be tone deaf. so did the man who wrote the song that maybe has been sung by more americans than any other song except happy birthday, was he tone deaf? we just don't know. believe that he had that song in mind that night. what about the song? well it was the theme song to a anachrionic society. it's a british fancy men's club ande fans would read a book get together and discuss it. but they would get together in would be adultre beverages involved. the at's why we hear that star spangled banner is to the tune of a quote/unquote english
song.ng it wasn't 99 bottles of beer on the wall. okay? it was more high-minded than that. so i take offense at that english drinking song thing. we know that it is very hard to sing. you've ever started on a high sunk on the star spangled banner. so you know i spend a good talking about how we came to write the song people want s what to know about. it was 1814. 1843.ved until he was a prominent lawyer in washington, d.c. politics for most of his life. didn't t like the -- he like the combativeness of it and mean anness and the spiritedness of it. but for some reason, which we're became lly clear of, he
enamored of andrew jackson 1828.ng for president in now, his brother-in-law, roger tawney was the maryland campaign jackson.for that might have been one reason. he was enthusiastic for jackson. so that when jackson became president, he became a very close advisor to jackson. member of jackson's kitchen cabinet. and this was the first time the kitchen cabinet came to being and it was a disparaging term. was the seventh president but the first president not born in virginia massachusetts. he was an outsider. he was from tennessee. tennessee was outside. in, he jackson came wanted to do things differently, he he was advised that should use old, you know, washington experienced people to his official cabinet. fine, i'll do that. but if i'm going have the advisors to ds and be my kitchen cabinet. that's what i'm going to lean
on. he did. the cabinet positions were all politicos.insider it was a derogatory term because emember kitchens weren't in people's houses. they were in separate buildings or in the basement. the cabinets of were done in fancy drawing rooms thethe kitchen cabinet were guys in tennessee meeting in the kitchen and drinking corn liquor did.hatever they he was a member of the kitchen county. did legal work. jackson's mber of kitchen cabinet. he did work for the president. appointed u.s. attorney in 1831. 1833 and they stayed in opposition for eight years. he still had the legal practice in georgetown. he prosecuted every kind of case know, worked on civil cases. he was involved in several prominent and interesting cases. i can tell you a couple of them.
in the he was involved prosecution of the man who was presidentialempted asa siassassin. named lawrence who walked up to andrew jackson on the steps of capitol hill and out a pistol at point blank range and fired and the pistol misfired. pulled out another pistol and it misfired at which point ackson started wailing on him with his cane. jackson. prosecuting attorney in washington. they hauled him to the not the old courthouse where it's two blocks from where we're standing right now. apparent to key very readily that the house painter mentally ill. he started to say he was the ing of england and ordered to do it by god or whatever.
jackson was andrew jackson. he immediately saw a conspiracy. he told the u.s. attorney prosecute this guy to the full law.t of the there were hearings on capitol hill. it became so evident that there as no conspiracy, there was a deranged man that key basically rosecuted him giving the jury the complete option and ncouraging them to go for a plea of insanity. he represented the famous sam case that another made a lot of headlines in washington. of houston had been a member congress. he wasn't at the time. e came back to washington and he was working for indians, some named standbury made a speech -- he wrote a letter -- houston saying he was stealing money, government money that was supposed to go to
the indians. he went out looking for standbury. he found it and started to beat them almost to death with the canes come in handy back then. hauled before the house. jackson and hups on the were close friends. houston ad key defend in congress. trial in congress took a month. it made headlines. would give two-hour speeches nd sam houston would give speeches. this was not frank's finest hour. he tried to kill the guy, had to of the guy.contempt there was a civil trial.
and key represented houston in courts. pardoned sam houston. never served a day in jail. houston later wrote, this is one things that ever happened to him. the career was on the way down. what did he do after that? texas.t to and, you know, became sam houston. so he -- he was -- key was involved in those kinds of things. know, the his legal of wills and lot estates and trusts and real estate. in the sexiest stuff world. civil esented people in suits and in describe actions. i think i'm going to end by role of ou about the slavery in francis scott key's life. it. can't get way from
he was add mately -- he came from a slave-owning family. he did free four of the slaves life. he owned slaves until the day he died. he willed them to his wife say sheing had the option of keeping them or freeing them. free them. he was against slave trafficking. slave was legal, but slave trafficking had been banned in 1808. way key and others thought trafficking could end is to send free blacks to africa. they started something called the american colonization in 1816. i was on the board of managers. pros letizer for making speeches and writing articles in 1843. day he died he was a controversial inendeavor.
dead olitionists were against it. them back to ng africa. he was born here. a controversial endeavor that front and center on for many decades. serving reputation for blacks in washington, which he did for free. how would the slaves g et in the in washington? well, a slave would be brought here from a slave state in which had d.c. maryland laws, by the way, back then. nd maryland had a law if the slave was brought here but lived for a year, they could be free. who do they go to? they went to frank key. this -- mixed record on on this number one issue of the is y republic, which slavery.
his brother-in-law robert b.tawney issued the dred scott ecision which said african-americans had no rights whatsoever. away from it. except one night when the bombs were bursting in air. hould i say bad poet -- this challenged poet came up with words that had become etched the fabric of our nation to day, 2014. so thank you very much. [ applause ] >> we do have time for questions. we would like you to go to the microphones on either side. archived here for posterity. no pressure. there any evidence that he
wrote an earlier song to that spangled flag?r and what was the name of the uncle he lived with in annapolis again? >> dr. upton scott. and i forgot to say that. right. i can't remember the date, 1808 there was a shindig they threw for steven decatur, the hero of the war in georgetown. and they asked this prominent georgetown to write a poem/song for the occasion. he did. words star the spangled banner and it was sung anachrion in 2 heaven. of the evidence that people point to for poem versus song for the star spangled banner, so you're correct. thank you.
are we done? by the way, the book came out three days ago. be able to smell the ink upstairs if you get a copy and i'll be happy to sign you.or so thank you very much. >> you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every 3.kend on c-span to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. professor ckles, the of southern california and david favrer, from temple university in philadelphia, thank you very us. for being with as we talk about pop culture in history, you've done a lot of on the counterculture movement. what was that? >> hard to say exactly what it was. it's a much contested term. i see it as those people in the 1960s and